Monday, April 15, 2024

WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Raquel has the solutions


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SHE HAS COME to the conclusion that if businesses do not treat their customers right and if they do not respond to customer queries promptly, courteously and correctly, then they are clearly looking to exist for only a short term.With a passion for solving problems in the business environment, Raquel Springer-Lloyd is on a mission to help local businesses organise their world by making sure that they have systems in place to organise customers and employees.Springer-Lloyd, who is a principal consultant and owner of Service Operating Solutions (SOS), told the MIDWEEK NATION that her aim was to be an innovative contributor in her field, and to encourage business owners to rethink their organisational structures with respect to recognising the important correlation between creating efficient operational infrastructures that best serve the needs of the customers.  “Businesses cannot run unless they sell to customers. Yet, many times the customer service department in some businesses is left to either a 1-800 number that is automated, which makes the customer feel frustrated. “In Barbados we have been acculturated to treat the customer as the ends and not the means.”Relationship“We [businesses] have the product and we are going to sell it and really we would prefer not to hear from you [customer] with a complaint or suggestion. It does not matter the status of the customer . . . a customer is a customer. You could get a million-dollar contract, but it doesn’t sustain you because somewhere along the line you did not give that service to or build that relationship with the customer,” said the 39-year-old, who has 15 years’ experience in her field.Springer-Lloyd said that once called, she went into businesses with the mindset to lead, encourage and train staff on the correct way to handle customers. She indicated that training equalled change and if change did not occur the end result would not be satisfying.“To me it starts with the CEOs and the business owners. If the CEO does not have time to work with me, that tells me right away that they can’t work with what I am trying to do, because it involves change and change is difficult for Barbadians. “I don’t only deal with the external customers, I also deal with the internal customer. You hire the person that is not interested to be up front to answer your phone – why have you done that? “They are now in the system, so you have to find the right way to flip their attitude around without being offensive.”Springer-Lloyd, who recently started a charity called Kairos to show small business owners how to develop a positive relationship with their customers, pointed out why “customer service and operations have got to go together”.“You can’t have a finance department doing a budget and numbers on sales if you don’t have customers. If every time you go to a particular gas station its employees have sour faces, soon the customer is going to get tired and say ‘I don’t need this’.”“Customers equal revenue, and CEOs understand revenue. I am trying to get the mindset across that without the revenue you wouldn’t have the other departments to calculate the earnings, to report to shareholders and newspapers how well you did. “Each department is critical and you cannot just leave it to a 1-800 number, an automated machine or one young person who you are so thankful to hire because you give them a little money and then they say to customers ‘I don’t know, I gine call you back’,” she said adding that “one customer will tell at least nine people when and where they have had a bad service.”The St James resident reminded businesses that “challenges may come your way, but maintaining your integrity is what will see you through”.

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